Sligo Baroque Orchestra

Sligo Baroque Orchestra was founded (as Sligo Early Music Ensemble) in 1990, at a time when there was little opportunity for playing classical instrumental music in Sligo. Its aim was to play music from the 17th and 18th centuries in a historically informed manner and for nearly 30 years it has maintained that goal, meeting for weekly rehearsals, and giving more than a hundred performances of the most famous works in the baroque repertoire as well as less familiar masterpieces.

The orchestra includes professional musicians as well as amateur and student instrumentalists, and involves members from diverse musical backgrounds. An important goal of the SBO is to offer students the opportunity to play in a chamber orchestra, performing fairly frequently and playing pieces in full and in their original form. Apart from the very valuable musical experience, membership of SBO also involves learning something about responsibility and the importance of compromise, which are necessary elements in such a venture. The chance for young instrumentalists to regularly rehearse and perform with professional musicians is not often available.

The SBO has been joined by eminent soloists including cellist Stephan Forck, viola player Stefan Fehlandt, flautist Eleanor Dawson, gamba player Sarah Groser and violinists Niamh Crowley and Nicola Cleary.

Aisling Kenny

Aisling Kenny is a soloist and ensemble singer, specialising in early music and art song. She studied music at Maynooth University, and vocal performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Basel. Aisling holds a PhD in musicology, and her research specialisms include the relationship between music and text across genres and eras, and women and the nineteenth-century Lied.  She sings as a soloist in oratorio and gives recitals of Lieder and lute song, in Ireland and abroad. Aisling has been awarded an Artistic Residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris for spring 2019, supported by Music Network.

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Norah O’Leary

Wexford native Norah O’Leary studied cello at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and on graduating continued her studies at the Sibelius Akatemia, Helsinki, receiving a Masters in Performance of Early Music. Norah won a scholarship to the Vadstena Opera and Baroque Dance Residency programme in Sweden for their 2017/18 season. She also has a keen interest in contemporary music, in particular the use of period instruments in contemporary composition, and was a founding member of the RIAM’s contemporary music ensemble Kirkos. She is the managing director and co-founder of rising early music group Ensemble Dagda, and plays extensively at home and abroad with leading artists and ensembles.

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Sergio Bucheli

From Mexico, Sergio Bucheli started playing the classical guitar at the age of eight. He studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, with support from, among others, a bursary funded by the Rolling Stones. Since September 2016, Sergio has been dedicated to the study of the lute and related instruments, and was awarded the ABRSM Scholarship to pursue his studies at the Royal Academy of Music with Elizabeth Kenny.  This year he was a finalist of the Royal Academy of Music Patron’s Award and the New Elizabethan Award organised by the Worshipful Company of Musicians; Sergio also won the Nancy Nuttall Early Music Prize with his Renaissance chamber group, Comalli. 

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Miriam Kaczor

A graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, flautist Miriam Kaczor came to Ireland  at the age of 12, from Poland.  Miriam was the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year 2015, and has appeared as soloist with both the RTE National Symphony and Concert Orchestras. She has performed with the Vanburgh Quartet, Crash Ensemble and is a member of Kirkos Ensemble. She first picked up the baroque flute in 2014, encouraged by a class with Jana Semeradova in Sligo, and has gone on to perform with period-instrument groups such as Ensemble Marsyas, Britten-Pears Baroque Ensemble and plays regularly with the Irish Baroque Orchestra. Miriam is currently studying in London, supported by an Arts Council Travel and Training award. 

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Fionnuala McMahon

Fionnuala McMahon studied recorder at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and the Kunstuniversität of Graz. Her awards include the "Libertas Lebt" prize at the Liebenberg Flute and Recorder Festival in 2015, which presented her with a Renaissance alto recorder by Francesco Li Virghi, a leading artisan recorder maker in Italy today.  Fionnuala also enjoys exploring contemporary music for the recorder, and combines her musical pursuits with being a medical student at Trinity College Dublin.

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Orla Shannon

Sligo native, Orla Shannon, was first introduced to singing lessons at age 13 with Anne-Marie Keaney. As a teenager, she obtained four Permanent TSB High Achiever awards based on her Royal Irish Academy exam results and was subsequently selected to sing at each respective Gala concert.

Orla went on to receive an entrance scholarship to Maynooth University where she trained with Deirdre Cooling-Nolan and graduated with first-class honours in music as part of her undergraduate degree. Whilst on her Erasmus year in Vienna, she studied solo operatic vocal lessons with Loreta Bartkeviviute-Bracamonte at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst and performed as a soloist with Uni Wien Chor Symphonische and Uni Wien Philharmonie Orchester at Wiener Konzerthaus. In 2015, Orla returned to Maynooth University to complete a Masters in Performance and Musicology with first-class honours. Her MA thesis ‘Behind a Closed Curtain: Shostakovich’s Satires (Pictures of the Past) Op. 109’ currently resides at the Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts as part of the composer’s fund.

In the past, Orla has been a prize-winner at Dublin Feis Ceoil, Sligo Feis Ceoil, and Feis Shligigh in categories for solo voice, duet singing, violin, viola, and piano. She holds a distinction in both RIAM senior cert violin and viola and a professional certificate in youth choral conducting from DIT. She is a former decani soprano at Christ Church Cathedral Choir, a past member of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland which toured the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and a former soprano with Maynooth University’s Chamber Choir which won the Pavarotti Trophy at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and recorded a CD with Brian Masterson in 2014.

As a soprano soloist, Orla has participated in masterclasses with Paul Farrington and Vijay Upadhyaya. She has sung with numerous choirs and choral societies (most regularly with Laetare Vocal Ensemble in Dublin) and was a soloist at President Bill Clinton’s honorary doctorate conferral at the Helix last year. To date, her performances have taken her to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Prague, Budapest, Portugal and Wales. Nowadays, she studies privately with Professor Ashley Stafford in London and is working towards a Licentiate diploma to the Royal Schools of Music, London for vocal performance.

Also active as a musicologist, Orla is the current recipient of Dublin City University’s four-year Musicology PhD Scholarship. She has recently been awarded a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship funded by the Irish Research Council for her doctoral research on twentieth-century Irish female composers. She now enjoys combining her expertise in performance and musicology in a lecturing capacity at Dublin City University.

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